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Full text of "Nuisance Abatement Complaints Filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney Between 2017 and 2019"

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CONFORMED COPY 

OF ORIGINAL FILED 
Los Anceles Superior Court 

N ' FEUER > City Attorney, SBN 111529 MAR 1 5 2017 

JONATHANCR^ALL^’ Chief ’ Cri ” inaI& S P ecial Lit- Branch, S^^^^tivsOflicenc*,. 
NAitlAN CR I STALL, supervising Assistant City Attorney SBN 191935 

ffSSSfiasr- SBN ii?r— 

200 N. Main Street, Suite 966 

Los Angeles, California 90012 
Telephone: 213.978.4090 

Fax: 213.978.4670 

E-Mail: maria.aguillon@lacity.org 


Attorneys for Plaintiff 


NO FEE - GOV’T CODE § 6103 


SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA 
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, CENTRAL DISTRICT 


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, 
Plaintiff, 


) Case No. 

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vs. 


SIf ,™ UD GMPF/ra (also known as JULIA M 
C RIEE JFFI), an Individual; AARON NOVEL 
WAT SON, an Individual; and DOES 1 through 100 
inclusive, & 

Defendants. 


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BC654008 


COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENT, 
INJUNCTION, EQUITABLE RELIEF 
AND CIVIL PENALTIES 

[HEALTH & SAFETY CODE 
SECTION 11570, ET SEQ.; PENAL 
CODE SECTION 3479, ET SEQ ] 


) 

) (Unlimited Action) 


COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENTUNJUNCTION, EQUItX^LE RELIEF, AND CIVIL PENAUW 



PLAINTIFF. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, alleges as follows: 

INTRODUCTION 

1 ■ This action is brought and prosecuted by the People of the State of California (“People”) 
for the purpose of enjoining, abating and preventing a nuisance as defined in Health and Safety Code 
section 11570, et seq. (the “Narcotics Abatement Law”) existing on the premises located at 900 East 24* 
Street, Los Angeles, California, 90011 (the “Property”). Defendant JULIA MAUD GRIFFITH (also 
known as JULIA M. GRIFFITH), an individual and DOES 1 through 50, (“OWNER DEFENDANTS”) 
own the Property. Defendant AARON NOVEL WATSON, an individual and DOES 51 through 100, 
(“DEALER DEFENDANTS”) sell, permit and/or facilitate the sales and/or distribution of narcotics at 
the Property. OWNER DEFENDANTS and DEALER DEFENDANTS hereinafter are referred 
collectively as “DEFENDANTS”. 

2. Health and Safety Code section 11570 defines a nuisance as a building or place used for 
the purposes of unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing, or giving away any 
controlled substance. Health and Safety Code section 11571 authorizes a City Attorney to maintain an 
action to abate and prevent the nuisance and to perpetually enjoin the person(s) conducting or 
maintaining the nuisance and the owner, lessee, or agent of the building or place in or upon which the 
nuisance exists from directly or indirectly maintaining or permitting the nuisance. Further, under Civil 
Code sections 3479 anything which is injurious to health, including, but not limited to, the illegal sale of 

controlled substances, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, is a 
nuisance. 

3. The People assert their power to remedy these injuries to the public interest by seeking to 

enjoin all DEFENDANTS’ future violations of law and to assess civil penalties and costs including, and 
not limited to, law enforcement investigative costs, attorney fees and Court costs against all 
DEFENDANTS for past violations of law under these provisions. 

Ill 

III 


COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENT, INJUNCTION^ EQUITAB LE RELIEF, AND CIVIL PENALTIES 



GENERAL ALLEGATIONS 
The Parties 

4. Plaintiff, the People of the State of California, acting through the Los Angeles City 
Attorney, Michael N. Feuer, brings this action pursuant to the authority granted by Health and Safety 

5 l' Code section 11570, et seq. and Code of Civil Procedure section 731. 

5. At all relevant times, Defendant JULIA MAUD GRIFFITH (also known as JULIA M. 

7 11 GRIFFITH), an individual was and is the owner of the Property and at all times mentioned herein has 

8 11 acted in such a capacity. Defendant JULIA MAUD GRIFFITH (also known as JULIA M. GRIFFITH), 

as the owner of the Property and, as such, directly or indirectly maintains and permits the nuisance to 
10 1 1 exist at the Property. 

6. Defendant AARON NOVEL WATSON, an individual is and was involved in the sale 

12 1 1 and/or distribution of narcotics at the Property. Defendant AARON NOVEL WATSON by selling, 

13 1 permitting, and/or facilitating the sale and/or distribution of narcotics at the Property is also responsible 

12 H for conducting and maintaining the nuisance alleged herein, thereby violating the Narcotics Abatement 
Act. 

7. Plaintiff is ignorant of the true names and capacities of Defendant DOES 1 through 100, 
1711 inclusive, and as such, sues these defendants by such fictitious names pursuant to Section 474 of the 

18 11 California Code of Civil Procedure. Each such defendant is responsible in some manner for conducting, 

19 11 maintaining, or directly or indirectly permitting the unlawful activity complained of herein. When the 


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true names and capacities of said defendants have been ascertained, Plaintiff will ask leave of the court 

to amend this complaint and to insert in lieu of such fictitious names the true names and capacities of 
any fictitiously named defendants. 

8. At all relevant times mentioned herein, all defendants were and are agents, lessors, 
lessees, servants, employees, partners and/or joint venturers of each other defendant, and at all times 

were acting within the course and scope of said relationship and with the consent of each of their co¬ 
defendants. 

Ill 

III 


COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENT, INJUNCTION, EQUITA BLE RELIEF, AND CIVIL PENALTIES 



1 


Z 9 ' The Property. legally described as a single family home, located at 900 East 24 ,h Street, 

3 Los Angeles, California, 90011 (the “Property”). The Property is located on the south side of 24'" Street 
3 on the southeast corner of East 24'" Street and Stanford Avenue in South Central Los Angeles. The 
Property is more specifically described as: “Lot 1 in Block ‘C' of Menlo Park Subdivision No. 1, in the 
6 city of Los Angeles, as per map recorded in Book 59 Page 63 of Maps, in the office of the county 
recorder of said county.” Assessors Parcel Number: 5131-022-001. The Property is approximately one 

8 block away from the Second Baptist Church, a historic site and cultural landmark in South Central Los 

9 Angeles, 

10 T • . 

Jurisdiction and Venue 

10. Each of the acts and practices alleged herein were performed by DEFENDANTS, in 
12 whole or in part, in the City of Los Angeles. 

11. The Property that is the subject of this action is located in the City of Los Angeles. 

Narcotics and Nui sance Activity at the Property 

12. Since at least September 2014, the Property has been used for the purpose of unlawful 
sales of controlled substances, namely heroin. Since at least September 2014, Los Angeles Police 
Department (“LAPD”) officers have made several arrests for narcotics related activity at the Property or 

18 directly-related to the Property. In addition, since September 2014, LAPD officers have executed search 

19 warrants and recovered narcotics at the Property. 

20 

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION 

21 FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE NARCOTICS ABATEMENT LAW 

(Health and Safety Code, § 11570, et seq.) 

23 r . . 

[Against All Defendants and 

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DOES 1 through 100] 

1 j ■ Plaintiff hereby incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 12 of this Complaint and 
makes them part of this First Cause of Action, as if fully set forth herein. 

14 ‘ The abatement of a nuisance is a long established and well-recognized exercise of the 
state’s police power. {People v. Barbiere (1917) 33 Cal.App. 770, 775; People ex rel. Hicks v. Sarong 


COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENT, INJUNCTION, EQUITABLE RELIEF, AND CIVIL 


PENALTIES 



Gals (1974) 42 Cal.App.3d 556, 563.) Since its enactment in 1972, the principal purpose of the 
2 Narcotics Abatement Act (Health & Safety Code, § 11570, et seq.) is the abatement of buildings and 
places “used for the puipose of unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing, or giving 

away any controlled substance, precursor, or analog specified in this division . . . .” (Health & Safety 
5 Code, § 11570). 

15. The Narcotics Abatement Law provides that every building or place used for the purpose 

' 0f UnIawful] y sel,in S’ ser ™g, storing, keeping, manufacturing, or giving away any controlled substance, 
‘is a nuisance which shall be enjoined, abated, and prevented . . . whether it is a public or private 
nuisance.” (Health & Safety Code, § 11570 [emphasis added].) 

16. Health and Safety Code section 11571, authorizes a city attorney to bring an action to 
abate, prevent and perpetually enjoin such nuisances. It provides in relevant part: “Whenever there is 
reason to believe that a nuisance as described in Section 11570, is kept, maintained, or exists in any 
county, the drstrict attorney of the county, or the city attorney of any incorporated city or of any city and 
county, in the name of the people, may . . . maintain an action to abate and prevent the nuisance and 
perpetually to enjoin the person conducting or maintaining it, and the owner, lessee, or agent of the 

building or place in or upon which the nuisance exists from directly or indirectly maintaining or 
permitting the nuisance.” 

17. Health and Safety Code section 11573(a) provides that: “If the existence of the nnisane, 
is shown in the action to the satisfaction of the court or judge, either by verified complaint or affidavit, 

the court or judge shall allow a temporary restraining order or injunction to abate and prevent the 
continuance or recurrence of the nuisance.” (Emphasis added.) 

18. The Property was, and is, being used, from an exact date unknown, but at least since 

September 2014, for the purposes of unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing or 

giving away controlled substances and is a building or place wherein or upon which those acts take 
place. 

19. From an exact date unknown, but at least since September 2014, Defendants JULIA 
MAUD GRIFFITH (also known as JULIA M. GRIFFITH), AARON NOVEL WATSON, and DOES 1 
through 100 have operated, maintained, directly or indirectly permitted and/or used the Property for the 


COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENT, INJUNCTION, EQUITABLE RELIEF, ANSotTl 


PENALTIES 


purposes of unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing and/or giving away controlled 
substances in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11570, et seq. 

20. DEFENDANTS and each of them, are the owners, operators, lessors, or lessees of the 
fixtures and appurtenances contained within the Property and said fixtures and appurtenances were used, 
and are presently being used, directly or indirectly, by all DEFENDANTS in conducting, maintaining 

and/or permitting the use of the Property, including its grounds, buildings and premises, for narcotics 
activity. 

21. Plaintiff has no adequate remedy at law, and unless DEFENDANTS are restrained and 
enjoined by order of this Court, they will continue to use, occupy, maintain, and permit the Property, 
together with the fixtures and appurtenances located therein, for the purpose of selling, storing, 
distributing or giving away a controlled substance, to wit, cocaine and heroin, and they will continue to 
allow, permit and encourage this nuisance on the premises, to the irreparable damage of the public. 

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION 
FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE PUBLIC NUISANCE LAW 
(Civ. Code, § 3479 et seq.) 

[Against All Defendants and 
DOES 1 through 100] 

22. Plaintiff hereby incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 21 of this Complaint and 
makes them part of this Second Cause of Action, as if Hilly set forth herein. 

23. On a continuous and ongoing basis, Horn an exact date unknown, but since at least 
December 2011, until the present time, DEFENDANTS have operated, occupied, used and/or permitted 
to be occupied and used the Property in such a manner as to constitute a public nuisance in violation of 
Civil Code sections 3479 and 3480. Said public nuisance, described herein is injurious to health, 
indecent or offensive to the senses and/or an obstruction to the free use of the property, so as to 
substantially and unreasonably interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property of persons in 
the surrounding community. Besides the overt narcotic sales and narcotics use at the location, the 

documented nuisance activity at the Property includes criminal threats, batteries, and assaults, including 
assaults with a deadly weapon. 

COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENT, INJUNCTION^ EQUITABLE RELIEF, AND CIVIL PENALTIES- 



24. DEFENDANTS in owning, conducting, maintaining and/or permitting the use of the 
Property as a public nuisance, have engaged in wrongful conduct and caused a serious threat to the 
general health, safety and welfare of Plaintiff. 

25. Plaintiff has no adequate remedy at law in that damages are insufficient to protect the 
public from the present danger and harm caused by the conditions described herein. Unless 
DEFENDANTS are restrained and enjoined by order of this Court, they will continue to use, occupy, 
maintain, and/or aid and abet the use, occupation and maintenance of the Property for the purpose 
complained of herein, to the great, irreparable damage of Plaintiff, to the City of Los Angeles, the local 
community near the Property, and in violation of California law. 

PRAYER 

WHEREFORE, PLAINTIFF PRAYS THAT THIS COURT ORDER, ADJUDGE AND 
DECREE AS FOLLOWS: 

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION (NARCOTICS NUISANCE! 

1. That DEFENDANTS, and DOES 1 through 100, and the Property, including all buildings 
and structures thereon, be declared in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11570, et seq. 

2. That the Property, together with the fixtures and moveable property therein and thereon, 
constitutes a public nuisance and be permanently abated as such in accordance with Section 11581 of the 
California Health and Safety Code. 

3. That the Court grant a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, permanent 
injunction and order of abatement in accordance with Section 11570, et seq. of the Health and Safety 
Code, enjoining and restraining all DEFENDANTS, and their agents, servants, employees, partners, 
principals, assigns, and all those acting in concert with, aiding and abetting, and/or participating with 
them from unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing, or giving away controlled 
substances on the Property. 

4. That as part of the Judgment, an Order of Abatement be issued, and that the Property be 
closed for a period of one year, not to be used for any purpose, and be under the control and custody of 
the Court for said period of time, or, in the alternative, if deemed harmful to the community, that 
DEFENDANTS, and DOES 1 through 100, pay damages in an amount equal to the fair market rental 

--7_ 

COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENT, INJUNCTION, EQUITABLE RELIEF, AND CIVIL PENALTIES | 



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value of the Property for one year to the City of Los Angeles in accordance with Health and Safety Code 
section 11581 subdivision (c)(1). 

5. That pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 11581 all fixtures and moveable 
property used in conducting, maintaining, aiding or abetting the nuisance at the Property be removed by 
the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”) or the appropriate agency and sold in the manner 
provided for the sale of chattels under execution. Said fixtures and property shall be inventoried and a 
list prepared and filed with this court. 

6. That there shall be excepted from said sale, such property to which title is established in 

some third party not a defendant, nor agent, officer, employee or servant of any defendant in this 
proceeding. 

7. That the proceeds from said sale be deposited with this court for payment of the fees and 
costs of sale. Such costs may occur in closing said Property and keeping them closed, removal of said 

property, and Plaintiffs costs m the action, including attorneys' fees, and such other costs as the court 
shall deem proper. 

8. That if the proceeds of the sale do not fully discharge all such costs, fees and allowances, 
the Property shall also be sold under execution issued upon the order of the court or judge and the 
proceeds of such sale shall be applied in a like manner. 

That any excess monies remaining after payment of approved costs shall be delivered to 
the owner of said Property. Ownership shall be established to the satisfaction of this court. 

10. That pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 11573,5(f)(l)(H), Defendant JULIA 

MAUD GRIFFITH (also known as JULIA M. GRIFFITH) be ordered to reside in the Property until the 
nuisance is abated. 

11. That the Court issue orders that Defendant AARON NOVEL WATSON and any 
DEALER DEFENDANTS contributing to the nuisance activity and currently residing at the Property 
move out and stay at least 1,000 feet away from the Property. 

12. That the Court issue such orders in accordance with Health and Safety Code section 

11573.5 to remedy the nuisance on the Property and enhance the abatement process, including but not 
limited to, the appointment of a receiver, and remedial improvements to the Property and management 

_____ 8 

COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENT, INJUNCTION, EQUITABLE RELIEF, AND CIVIL PENALTIES- 


of the Property that will contribute towards abating the nuisance. 

13. That Plaintiff recover the costs of this action, including law enforcement investigative 
costs and any fees, including attorneys’ fees, authorized by Civil Code section 3496(c) from all 
DEFENDANTS in an amount not to exceed Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($750,000.00). 

14. That pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 11581, DEFENDANTS, individually, be 
assessed a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $25,000.00. 

15. That Plaintiff recover the amount of the filing fees and the amount of the fee for the 
service of process or notices which would have been paid but for Government Code section 6103.5, 
designating it as such in an amount not to exceed $10,000.00. The fees may, at the Court’s discretion, 
include the amount of the fees for certifying and preparing transcripts. 

16. That Plaintiff be granted such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper. 

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION (PUBLIC NUISANCE LAW1 

17. That the Property, together with the fixtures and moveable property therein and thereon, 

be declared a public nuisance and be permanently abated as such in accordance with Civil Code section 
3491. 

18. That DEFENDANTS, and their agents, employees and anyone acting on their behalf, and 
their heirs and assignees, be perpetually enjoined from operating, conducting, using, occupying, or in 
any way permitting the use of the Property as a public nuisance. Such orders should include, but not be 
limited to, (1) physical and managerial improvements to the Property, and (2) that any DEALER 
DEFENDANTS residing at the Property move out of and stay 1000 feet away from the Property and 

such other orders as are appropriate to remedy the nuisance on the Property and enhance the abatement 
process. 

19. That the Court grant a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, permanent 
injunction and order of abatement in accordance with California Civil Code section 3479, et seq., 
enjoining and restraining DEFENDANTS and their agents, employees and anyone acting on their 

behalf, from unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing, or giving away controlled 
substances on the Property. 


COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENT, INJUNCTIOn! EQU ITABLE RELIEF, AND CIVIL PENALTIE S 


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| 20. That Plaintiff be granted such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper, 

including closure and/or demolition of the Property. 

21. That Plaintiff recovers the costs as may occur in abating said nuisance at the Property, 
including and not limited to, the amount of the filing fees and the amount of the fees for the service of 
process or notices which would have been paid but for Government Code section 6103.5, designating it 

as such not to exceed $500,000.00. The fees may, at the Court’s discretion, include the amount of the 
fees for certifying and preparing transcripts. 

ALL CAUSES OF ACTION 

22. That Plaintiff be granted such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper. 

DATED: March 15, 2017 Respectfully submitted, 

MICHAEL N. FEUER, City Attorney 

JONATHAN CRISTALL, Managing Assistant City Attorney 

LIORA FORMAN-ECHOLS, Asst. Superv. Deputy City Attorney 

By: _ 

MARIA A0JZIILLON, Deputy City Attorney 
Attorneys for Plaintiff, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE 
OF CALIFORNIA 


COMPLAINT FOR ABATEMENT, INJUNCTION, EQUI TABLE RELIEF, AND CIVIL PENALTIES